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The Palace of the Romanov Boyars

The Palace of the Romanov Boyars in Moscow When Mikhail Romanov was elected Tsar in 1613, his family had for centuries been making steady progress up the social and political ladder of Muscovy. This palace, built by Mikhail's grandfather, Nikita Zakharin (the Romanov name was adopted by his children), was a mark of the family's status in the reign of Ivan the Terrible (confirmed beyond doubt by the young Ivan's marriage to Nikita's sister, Anastasia in 1547). Before his death, Ivan made Nikita joint regent with Boris Godunov and, as the latter moved to have himself crowned Tsar, boyars from the older families rallied round the Romanov faction in opposition. Godunov prevailed, and the family was exiled en masse to beyond the Urals. The head of the family, Feodor Nikitich, was forced to take monastic vows, assuming the name Filaret. It was in this capacity that, after Godunov's death, he rose to become Patriarch, the eminence grise behind the throne of the two False Dimitrys and then of his son, Mikhail I.

From Mikhail's election by the boyar assembly onwards, the family lived in the Kremlin, and it wasn't until the 19th Century that Nicholas I decided to have the building restored to its former glories as a tribute to his ancestors. Since 1859, it has operated as a museum, one of the first in city, offering visitors an opportunity to experience aristocratic life in the Moscow of the Middle Ages first-hand. The house is on two levels, the ground floor devoted to the public 'men's' rooms, and the second storey to the ladies' quarters, where the women spent their days weaving and doing needlework. The beautiful interiors, meticulously recreated by the architect Richter, show the very different styles of the two floors: the men's section is dark and imposing, with exquisitely tooled leather coverings on the walls, while the second floor is pleasantly light and airy, the walls lined with pale wood.

Although a venerable Moscow institution, the Palace is for some reason not often frequented by foreigners. This is shame, as it's a genuinely fascinating and appealing museum that gives an unusually complete glimpse of a world unknown to most Russians, let alone foreign visitors.

Opening hours: Daily from 10:00 to 17:00, closed on Tuesdays and the first Monday of each month.


Address: 10, Ulitsa Varvarka, Moscow, 103012, Russia
Telephone: +7 (495) 298-37-06
Transport: Kitai Gorod Metro Station

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